Amari and the Night Brothers

B.B. Alston

Amari and the Night Brothers
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Amari and the Night Brothers

B.B. Alston

A 12-year-old girl from the housing projects discovers her brother was more than he seemed … And so is she. A gripping, fun, heartfelt new fantasy for an upper middle-grade audience.

Quinton Peters was the golden boy of the Rosewood City low-income housing projects, receiving full scholarship offers to two different Ivy League schools. When he mysteriously goes missing, his little sister, 13-year-old Amari Peters, can’t understand why it’s not a bigger deal. Why isn’t his story all over the news? And why do the police automatically assume he was into something illegal?

Then Amari discovers a ticking briefcase in her brother’s closet. A briefcase meant for her eyes only. There was far more to Quinton, it seems, than she ever knew. He’s left her a nomination for a summer tryout at the secretive Bureau of Supernatural Affairs. Amari is certain the answer to finding out what happened to him lies somewhere inside - if only she can get her head around the idea of mermaids, dwarfs, aliens and magicians all being real things, something she has to instantly confront when she is given a weredragon as a roommate.

Amari must compete against kids who’ve known about the supernatural world their whole lives and are able to easily answer questions like ‘Which two Great Beasts reside in the Atlantic Ocean?’ and ‘How old is Merlin?’ Just getting around the Bureau is a lesson for Amari, with signs like Department of Hidden Places this way, or is it? If all that wasn’t enough, every Bureau trainee has a talent that is enhanced to supernatural levels to help them do their jobs - but Amari’s talent, when it’s revealed, is illegal. As if she needed something else to make her stand out.

With an evil magician threatening the whole supernatural world, and her own classmates thinking she is an enemy, Amari has never felt more alone. But if she doesn’t pass the three tryouts, she may never find out what happened to Quinton.

Review

Amari Peters misses her older brother Quinton, who has been missing for six months. When Amari receives a mysterious delivery, supposedly from Quinton himself, it seems like she might be getting closer to finding out where he is. But to go further, she has to take an enormous leap of faith, and attend summer camp at a covert supernatural organisation. Amari enters the intensive training program at the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs, competing with hundreds of other kids for coveted traineeships. She tries to stay focused on finding out what happened to Quinton, but gets swept up in the Bureau’s battle against an evil magician.

I haven’t been this excited about a fantasy series since Jessica Townsend’s Nevermoor series or Scarlett Thomas’s Worldquake Sequence. Amari and the Night Brothers contains all the ingredients I love in a magical middle grade (dangerous tests; magical specialties; a dastardly villain) but it is thrillingly fresh and original. While there’s action, plot twists and a great cast of instructors and students, what really sets this book apart for me is the way the real and the supernatural worlds mirror each other. Amari is bullied at school and, as a young Black girl, is frequently limited by other people’s perceptions of her. Within the Bureau, she’s seen as an outsider because of the nature of her talents, and it’s still the kids with access to resources and opportunities who excel.

This is an inventive, fun and heartfelt debut; it’s guaranteed to please young readers who love magic, friendship and adventure. For ages 9+.


Leanne Hall is the children’s specialist for Readings online. She also writes books for children and young adults.

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